A record 10,700 people contacted the California Department of Parks and Recreation on Feb. 1 to reserve campsites for the Labor Day weekend, smashing the state’s previous all-time record of 7,000 calls for a single day.
“The system held up, but I’m sure there’s going to be some frustration in the public trying to get campsites for this summer at state parks,” state parks spokesman Steve Capps told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Most beach campsites in Southern California were booked, which could force more campers to turn to distant parks in Northern California as well as 800 lesser known campsites operated by national forests, the Bureau of Land Management, Pacific Gas & Electric and regional and county park districts, Capps said.
“A lot of state parks are booked through the month of August,” said Alyce Peterson of ReserveAmerica, which operates the state park reservation service. “For some parks (the top 15), every spot is taken for every day. The only time you might get a spot is if someone cancels.”
Capps said there are a number of reasons for the campsite rush. “There are more people camping,” he said. “There’s all kinds of theories: Because of the economy, people are vacationing closer to home.; and there are studies that show people feel more secure in state parks at times when security is an issue.”
Capps also noted that while California’s population has grown, the number of campsites has not. He also noted that many people have learned how to work the system. Reservations at any state park can be made seven months in advance on the first day of every month. So people making reservations on Feb. 1 could do so for Labor Day as well as the entire month of August.
California’s most popular state park campground includes cabins with wood stoves at Mount Tamalpais State Park. The cabins are located on a bluff overlooking the ocean at Rocky Point. “Those are gone in the first 20 minutes,” Peterson said. Others that sell out in the first hour are Sea Cliff in Monterey Bay and Doheny and San Elijo on the Southern California coast. Other sites that quickly get booked are located along Route 1, which traces the California coastline.